Downeast Dog News
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Go Green Every Day

By Susan Spisak | May 01, 2021

Being environmentally friendly, aka “green,” was once regarded as trendy, but we’re long past that - it’s become a part of our daily lives. This movement has grown by leaps and bounds, with many subscribing to recycling, reusing, reducing, and supporting sustainability. Dog owners include their canines in these practices, such as recycling their food cans, pill bottles, and treat boxes. (Not sure what’s recyclable? Visit ecomaine Recyclopedia for answers: ecomaine.org/what-can-be-recycled/. Find out what your town accepts and adhere closely.)

All these efforts reduce landfills and protect Maine’s gorgeous scenery, from the mountains, rivers, lakes, and beaches to trails, parks, and greenways – not to mention the air and wildlife. There’s plenty more that we can do, and by including our dogs in our green thoughts and actions, it’ll become second nature.

If you’re all about your yard, you likely prefer it weed-free, but be sure you get the results safely. There are some lawn foods out there that are all-natural and without chemicals. Regardless of what you’re considering, if it’s not marketed as safe for pets, it’s probably not. Read the labels - the worst toxic ingredients include insecticides and snail bait. And remember, if the product’s not good for your pet, it’s not safe for the environment.

If you’re thinking of adding a shade tree to that yard, know that it has eco-friendly rewards. A tree’s sunshade will not only offer a refreshing hammock spot for you and your bestie’s outdoor naps, but it’ll also absorb harmful carbon dioxide and release oxygen back in the air, thereby facilitating the global warming cause. A tree will keep your home cooler by protecting it from the sun’s heat, thus saving energy on air conditioning. Visit a nearby nursery and consult with a professional landscaper for the best type for your property.

If you have a green thumb (sorry, couldn’t resist), plant a garden using only natural products and fertilizers to eliminate harmful chemicals that pollute soil and waterways. You’ll not only reap the rewards of having fresh, nutrient-rich, delicious produce handy, growing your own organic food is sustainable and nourishes your soil.

If you’re not a gardener, or want to browse for other fare, hit an outdoor farmer’s market with your leashed pooch in tow – he’ll love the socialization, exercise, and fresh air. Purchase locally grown fruits and veggies including green beans and carrots for healthy treats for your pup. He’ll like them, and they’ll keep him trim. Many markets offer honey, milk, cheese, and butter – great goodies for you and your family. You can find Made-in-Maine artistic treasures to purchase and tuck away for gifting. Shopping local lowers your carbon footprint and helps your neighbors. (Don’t forget your reusable bags.)

Consider buying organic pet food. Foods that are certified from natural, organic farms will ensure that all meat, fish, poultry, and non-genetically modified vegetables are human grade (they’ll be first on ingredients list). These types of dog foods are free of antibiotics, artificial flavors, colors, growth hormones, additives, and synthetic chemical preservatives that pollute land and water. In addition to being planet-friendly, the benefit for your boy is that his digestion, coat, and skin may be healthier. Do your homework. Consult your vet and ask a knowledgeable petfood shopkeeper what’s best.

Does your dog love new toys? Recycle old, tattered jeans that you or your kids have outgrown – no sewing required (my kind of project). For a tug toy, start by cutting the legs into two long strips, then lay them in a cross shape on a table, and box knot. Continue ‘til finished. For the full process and video: youtube.com/watch?v=YduxfR5ikTw. Or you can use old T’s for braided tug toys. A step-by-step blog with pics makes it easy. everydaydogmom.com/diy-upcycled-t-shirt-dog-toy/.

Owning a pet can take a toll on the home. Keep it clean with a few easy eco-friendly measures. Keep his flying hair to a minimum by taking him into the yard for an old-fashioned brushing. You’re saving electricity - no need to vacuum up afterwards, and believe it or not, the fur left behind can be reused by birds for nesting. While you’re out there, scoop poop into a recyclable grocery or produce bag. Your yard will be clean, and so will any runoff into neighborhood water and beyond.

Paws find and bring in the dirt – especially in mud season. Repurpose old towels and keep by service doors to wipe paws clean. If they’re nasty, fill a small bucket and lift each paw, one at a time, into water for a mini soak. (You may want to keep him in one room until he’s dry.) If you’re a home groomer, purchase organic bath products. Try an all-natural dry shampoo during spring shower season - there are many on the market that leave coats shiny and smelling fresh.

As far as cleaning wax-free and tile floors, pour a half cup of baking soda into a bucket of warm water, mop the floors, and rinse. For carpets and upholstery, sprinkle the powder sparingly and vacuum after 15 minutes. I use this on area rugs, especially after my boys have laid on them to lick frozen peanut butter Kongs. The plus is that the room smells fresh.

Think about all the ways you can better our environment. Even the smallest gestures add up, and you’ll know you and your dog are helping Maine and the Earth.